Making maths homework concrete makes a difference to the level of engagement with a child especially in Primary School

I have noticed over the years that the exact same maths questions (especially as homework) can be engaging or otherwise depending on the context of the questions.

Here are some homework sheets from our sister-site Ninja Maths which use minimal context of apples and oranges in Y4/5 homework such as “If an apple cost 14p, how much change will you get from the shopkeeper if you buy five apples with a £5 note?”

There are 630 long addition questions in this book which start easy and get progressively more difficult.

The workbook is A4, 56 pages containing questions and answers.

Research has shown that practice and repetition are key to securing numeracy (see website for details regarding repetition as a key step in learning and recall).

In this book the maths starts with two digit numbers and ends with numbers in the thousands. Suitable for ages 8 to 12 – from Primary School to the first year of Secondary School if further help is required with long addition:

Page 1 Example: 65 + 7

Page 15 Example: 164 + 187

Page 27 Example: 942 + 726

Page 42 Example: 8,916 + 6,945

I highly recommend a child doing two pages of this book every day especially during Easter, Summer and Christmas breaks to help secure numeracy while on long breaks from school.

Don’t Panic! Here are three simple sentences which I have found to have positive impact on a child’s mind-set

Don’t Guess

Sometimes when a child reads a question in a SAT test or 11+ entrance exam, they panic. Then their brain starts to close down. Then they start to guess, which is just about the worst possible thing to do.

It is hugely important to not panic and the first thing to remember to help stay cool in an exam is to not guess.

Break it Down

Often on first reading, a question is difficult to understand. That’s why it is very important to break it down. That’s exactly what the examiners want the child to do – to extract the numbers and relationships from the text of the question. If there are ten red apples and fifteen green, the child should write down 10R and 15G – in part to engage their brains in breaking down the question.

Often there’s an “Ah-ha!” moment, when after breaking the question down, a child suddenly realises what the question is asking. By the “Ah-ha!” often doesn’t happen unless the break-down comes first.

Work it Out

Once a child has all the required information they can begin to work out the answer. But this short sentence isn’t just about working it out, it’s about SHOWING that you’re working it out.

Remember that if a question in a paper is worth 3 marks, you can bet that at least one of those and possibly two is for showing your working out.

Online maths tutorial times for Melbourne are 15:00 to 22:00 seven days a week (depending on availability)

The Tutor Dragon is based in London and with is team able to deliver online maths tutorials in Melbourne from 15:00 to 22:00 seven days a week.

For a free introductory session please contact us using the form below.

Reminder: You’ll need an iPad or touch-screen and a stylus – free Tutor Dragon notepad and Dragon stylus when you sign up for your first paid tutorial.

Online maths tutorial times for Tokyo are 15:00 to 22:00 seven days a week (depending on availability)

The Tutor Dragon is based in London and with is team able to deliver online maths tutorials in Tokyo from 15:00 to 22:00 seven days a week.

For a free introductory session please contact us using the form below.

Reminder: You’ll need an iPad or touch-screen and a stylus – free Tutor Dragon notepad and Dragon stylus when you sign up for your first paid tutorial.

Whether you’re staying at home or heading off somewhere on holiday, there are easy ways to keep up with Maths

It’s never easy persuading a child to get on with some maths whether you’re at home or away on holiday or with relatives.

The first and most important thing to do is manage expectation. Don’t spring a ten-minute maths paper on your child unexpectedly. Instead, agree and plan up front what will be done and when.

It is FAR BETTER to do a little each day than a lot once a week.

In that respect the ten-minute maths books are very useful – as are freely available maths worksheets such as Ninja Maths and Maths is Fun.

TRY THIS: Have a chat with your child making it clear that a reward such as screen-time can only happen once they’ve shown you a completed worksheet (e.g. from Ninja Maths).

Make it clear that they should do this every day – maybe with the exception of Sunday 😉

If you plan to have a mock exam at home, it is vitally important that you discuss this in advance with your child and agree a date and time in advance.

It is also important to make it clear that the marking process will take place after the mock-exam at which point the child is expected to re-try any questions which they did not answer correctly.

Also worth noting that bribery really works, so relating screen-time or some other reward works well up to a certain age.

If all this seems tough – remember this quote:

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

Attributed to Eppie Lederer, the woman who wrote under the “Ann Landers” pseudonym in 1975.

Need Help?

Contact the Tutor Dragon for an initial free online tutorial:

It is important for a child to continue maths work throughout long holidays with a combination of workbooks and tutorials

During the long summer holidays (and other such as Easter and Christmas) it is very important for a child to;

A) Work their way through workbooks, and;

B) Have regular tutorials to tackle any questions which could not be solved

The advantage of online tutoring is that a child can have a tutorial no matter where in the world they are, including on holiday. One a week is typically fine, or twice a week for children in UK Year 5 who will return to school and start their 11+ exams in the first week or so of Y6 as they also ramp-up for the Independent School Entrance Exams.

Summer maths camps are of use, but are typically focused on getting as many children to attend as possible which diminishes the value delivered to each child. In addition the homework is generic, whereas the homework from a tutor is targeted.

Workbooks are also of importance, assuming the parents have time to mark all the work and can offer advice on how to solve questions which the child cannot. This becomes more difficult in the first year or so of Secondary School when teenagers are tackling algebra and more advanced trigonometry.

Summary

Keep up the workbooks while on holiday and if you are interested please contact me for a free no-commitment tutorial session anywhere in the world:

By far the best way for a child to learn fractions (and then decimals and percentages) is to actually draw then by colouring in shapes

Once a child has spent some DRAWING fractions they will have the confidence and ability to make the leap into numbers without the need to see shapes.

In an online tutorial I start with simple shapes and fractions – for example to colour in a half or a quarter of a rectangle broken down into four squares.

Once a child is used to this, they can SEE how to add 1/4 and 3/8.

Once a child has moved on from drawing fractions visually they can always go back to this method if they need to for more advanced geometry.

In an online tutorial a child has time to solve ten or more fractions by drawing them out, with which I will be assisting.

It can take as little as one or two sessions for the child to “click” how fractions work. You can almost hear it!

Contact the Tutor Dragon

Please contact me for your free introductory session:

When possible, a child should practice their maths every day, feeding back to parents and the tutor any questions which they found difficult

Think of getting better at maths as getting better at playing an instrument.

If a child misses a day or so here and there it shouldn’t matter too much. But to not practice for a week (even through long holidays) is a mistake and will move a child’s abilities in the wrong direction.

Tutoring is a great way to target any questions which a child finds difficult – in a way that teachers simply can’t because they’re looking after so many children at school.

A child should try to practice maths every day, make a list of any questions they found difficult (e.g. from school homework or from home study workbooks). It is VITALLY IMPORTANT to let your tutor what your child found to be difficult so they can focus on that subject in a tutorial, practice more, understand it, and deliver results in the exams.

Please contact the Tutor Dragon if you need any help especially using homework to target weaknesses to fix:

A child can learn to tell the time on a clock fairly easily but mastering time calculations is a whole other ball game

It is very important to acknowledge that there is a HUGE difference between telling time, and working out what the time was 45 minutes ago.

Telling Time Ages 5 to 6

A child should be able to read the hour and half-hour marks on an analogue clock and be able to draw in the hands for example if you say “Draw three o’clock.”

Telling Time Ages 6 to 7

A child should know the number of seconds in a minute, minutes in an hour, hours in a day and days in a week. A child should also be able to understand quarter-to and quarter-past when read a clock or drawing the hands on a clock.

Telling Time Ages 7 to 8

A child should be able to also read digital clocks, understand AM and PM as well as the 24-hour clock (e.g. that 1PM = 13:00), and be able to use the associated vocabulary such as morning, afternoon, AM, PM, noon, midday and midnight etc.

Time Calculations for Ages 8+

Children age 8+ should be able to perform time calculations starting with simple sums such as “It is 8AM now, what will the time be one hour from now?” – continuing on to more complex questions for 9+ into years 5 and 6 using train timetables and working out how long it takes a train to go from one city to another.

AM / PM Time Calculations

More complex questions involve AM and PM – e.g. where the answer to a train timetable question overlaps from AM into PM and vice-versa.

24 Hour Calculations

This is the final level in KS2 which a lot of children struggle with, including into Secondary School (and including a lot of adults!).

Such questions involve adding and subtracting hours and minutes even across midnight into the next day, where answers must be expressed in 24hr clock notation.

For example a plane leaving London at 8:05PM which takes seven and a half hours to fly to New York. What time will it arrive in London time and New York time, expressing both answers in 24hr notation including the day.

This is not easy and requires a better method than just using clock faces.